Transcriptomic landscape of acute promyelocytic leukemia reveals aberrant surface expression of the platelet aggregation agonist Podoplanin


Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a medical emergency because of associated lethal early bleeding, a condition preventable by prompt diagnosis and therapeutic intervention. The mechanisms underlying the hemostatic anomalies of APL are not completely elucidated. RNA-sequencing-based characterization of APL (n = 30) was performed and compared to that of other acute myeloid leukemia (n = 400) samples and normal promyelocytes. Perturbations in the transcriptome of coagulation and fibrinolysis-related genes in APL extend beyond known culprits and now include Thrombin, Factor X and Urokinase Receptor. Most intriguingly, the Podoplanin (PDPN) gene, involved in platelet aggregation, is aberrantly expressed in APL promyelocytes and is the most distinctive transcript for this disease. Using an antibody panel optimized for AML diagnosis by flow cytometry, we also found that PDPN was the most specific surface marker for APL, and that all-trans retinoic acid therapy rapidly decreases its expression. Functional studies showed that engineered overexpression of this gene in human leukemic cells causes aberrant platelet binding, activation and aggregation. PDPN-expressing primary APL cells, but not PDPN-negative primary leukemias, specifically induce platelet binding, activation and aggregation. Finally, PDPN expression on leukemia cells in a xenograft model was associated with thrombocytopenia and prolonged bleeding time in vivo. Together our results suggest that PDPN may contribute to the hemostatic perturbations found in APL.,

Sébastien Lemieux
Sébastien Lemieux
Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator, Functional and Structural Bioinformatics Research Unit, IRIC | Scientific direction of the Bioinformatics platform | Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Université de Montréal